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I have to ‘reprogram my thinking’ as a batsman – Carlos Brathwaite

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West Indies have won only two of their last 11 completed ODIs. It’s an alarming stat on paper, but the team, according to Carlos Brathwaite, isn’t doing as badly as those results might suggest.

“I don’t think we are that far away,” Brathwaite said after West Indies’ training session on Tuesday. “We just continue to miss key points in the game. If we look back at the World Cup it is the same thing. If we look at the game the other day we weren’t cruising, but we were in a good position, and then we lost three or four quick wickets.

“We are just missing a few key moments that could have turned one or two loses into wins and make us look a little better, give us a little momentum, and start to try to win series more consistently.”

Chasing 270 in 46 overs in Sunday’s second ODI, West Indies lost a potentially winnable game when they slipped from 179 for 4 to 182 for 8. Brathwaite felt it wasn’t a lack of belief or skills that was causing West Indies to let such key moments slip, but a failure to execute those skills.

“I don’t think it is belief per se,” he said. “I think if you ask the guys in the dressing room if they believe they can win – I think they do believe they can win. The execution of that belief is lacking in key moments like I said. So, I don’t think it’s a lack of belief or a lack of passion and in most cases it’s not even a lack of skill, but just executing what we want to execute the key moments of the game, which was the case in majority of the World Cup and this series so far.”

As to what the players need to do in order to become more consistent, and not repeat mistakes, Brathwaite said they would not find time in the middle of international series to work on their games, and would need to put in that work at the levels below, with their respective domestic teams.

“It’s practice. It’s conversation,” Brathwaite said. “If I am being brutally honest, there is not much we can change on the international tour. That is the challenge for the [domestic] franchise to be able to do enough work, get enough information from the guys at the top. and start implementing stuff. On the tour we try to get the mind right, we try to, as a group, have conversations and honest conversations – not just patting them on the back but having honest conversations, sometimes even being harsh and try to become better players eventually.”

Speaking about his own game, he said he’s been focusing on his fitness, and his mindset as a batsman.

“We are having a lot of honest conversations with the coaches and the staff and I think one thing that’s kept me back is my fitness. I am working very, very hard in the past 12 to 14 months on my fitness – I believe I can get a bit stronger as well.

“I think batting-wise I have to reprogram my thinking in thinking about hitting and swiping and batting properly. I think there has been a conscious effort for me to try to help the team as a batsman and a bowler and try to give myself the best chance for the team and try to help West Indies win cricket games.”

Going back to his 82-ball 101 against New Zealand at the World Cup, Brathwaite said he had walked in with time to build his innings – a rarity for a lower-order batsman like him – and that his challenge would be to perform consistently even without that luxury.

“I had a lot of time to bat. I had a clear thought process,” he said. “I was working very hard off the pitch, as I am now, with the bat, in trying to do the right things and the simple things as long as possible. I had enough time so I could play myself in getting so at the back end when I normally come in to bat to start my innings I already had [faced] 40-50 balls.

“The challenge for me is that that situation won’t always present itself. Obviously, being at home, we have changed the combination a bit. There I played at seven [six], here at eight, nine or maybe seven – the thing I take away from that innings is the way I structured and built the innings which allowed me to kick off at the back end.”

With a full training session under their belt, Brathwaite said West Indies were in good spirits for the third ODI, and were confident of squaring the series.

“We drew the last series against England at home as well,” he said. “And then going into the last game it’s for us to get the batting in order – if we get good starts going into the back end that’ll give us a good chance.

“I think the batting has much improved especially since the T20s and from the overall batting performance in the World Cup as well. But, we didn’t close it off. We batted well in the second game as well, it was about closing it off – hopefully that happens in the next game as well and for the lower half to close the game.”



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Lynn left fuming after ‘piss poor’ and ’embarrassing’ Brisbane Heat collapse

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Brisbane Heat captain Chris Lynn has lambasted his side’s record BBL collapse against the Melbourne Renegades as “piss-poor” and “embarrassing”.

The Heat were 0 for 84 after 5.5 overs chasing a target of 165 at the Gabba only to lose a record 10 for 36 to fall 44 runs short and put their finals hopes in severe jeopardy.

This followed an embarrassing 10-wicket loss to the Adelaide Strikers last Thursday when they were bowled out for 100. They were also bowled out for just 109 earlier in the tournament against the Perth Scorchers attempting to chase just 150.

Lynn did not pull any punches following his side’s latest performance.

“I’ve seemed to be in this position a couple of times this year,” he told Channel Seven. “I can’t really sugar-coat it, it was a piss-poor effort. Another embarrassing effort. We got off to a flyer. These guys that are playing they’re not first or second-year players, they’ve got four or five years under their belt.

“We’re doing all the right things at training but I don’t know what is going on out in the middle because we just seem to panic. It’s not just a wicket or two, it’s a train wreck.”

Lynn was the first man to fall holing out to deep long-on in the last ball of the powerplay which then triggered the stunning collapse. The Heat lost three wickets in four balls including AB de Villiers and Matt Renshaw, who both fell to Player of the Match Cameron Boyce in the seventh over.

Lynn and coach Darren Lehmann called a strategic timeout at the end of the seventh over to try and steady the ship but the message to rebuild consolidate was not heeded.

“Something has got to change,” Lynn said. “Our preparation has been awesome, you can’t fault that but it’s just out in the middle. I don’t know what goes through our guys’ heads. We had our strategic timeout, we had our plans in place not to play dumb cricket, knock it around, hit the guys in the deep, no run-outs, um … yeah, I’m pretty speechless.”

Lynn was probed further by former Heat captain Brendon McCullum, now a Channel Seven commentator, and fellow commentator Ricky Ponting, as to why the Heat’s batsmen are recidivists but he could not find an answer.

“I don’t know,” Lynn said. “I’m standing here for the second time after an embarrassment. It’s the biggest record loss after a powerplay of [84]. We were cruising and doing better than walking it in, I don’t really know what to say, to be honest.

“Every player has got to look in and not out. We’re playing as a group of individuals and unless we change that we’re going to end up missing the finals again which is not good enough in the position we’re in and the players we’ve got in the line-up.”

The Heat could have moved to fourth on the table with a victory, ahead of both the Sydney Thunder and the Perth Scorchers, but instead they remain sixth with just three games remaining and their net run-rate took a battering as a result of the stunning collapse.



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Shikhar Dhawan picks up shoulder injury, doesn’t open for India

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India are yet to take a call on Shikhar Dhawan after he left the field clutching his left shoulder during the ODI series decider against Australia in Bengaluru on Sunday.

Dhawan was immediately sent for an X-ray, with a BCCI spokesperson saying “a call on his availability for the game will be taken once he is back and assessed”.

Dhawan fell over on his left shoulder in the fifth over of the match as he dived to stop an Aaron Finch drive at cover point. Nitin Patel, the team physio who attended to him, took him off the field. He spent the rest of the innings off the field, and didn’t come out to open the batting in India’s chase of 287.

KL Rahul, who made a match-winning 52-ball 80 from No. 5 in the second ODI in Rajkot, opened instead of Dhawan. His partner Rohit Sharma, incidentally, had also bruised his shoulder while fielding during the Rajkot ODI.

In the same game, Dhawan had bruised his ribcage after trying to negate a Pat Cummins delivery, but continued to bat on and make 96 in India’s series-levelling victory. He spent the entire duration of the Australia innings off the field to nurse the injury.

Dhawan has hit a purple patch in recent times, scoring 52, 74 and 96 in his three most recent international innings. In November, he picked up a freak injury – “a deep cut on his left knee” – during a Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 game for Delhi against Maharashtra. Originally picked for the series against West Indies, he was later withdrawn as the medical staff felt he needed more time for his stitches to come off and the wound to heal.

As things stand, Dhawan is part of India’s T20I squad for the tour of New Zealand starting January 24. India are set to fly out of Bengaluru early on Monday to Auckland via Singapore.



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Pace trio sets up Pakistan’s seven-wicket rout of Scotland

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Pakistan Under-19s 77 for 3 (Irfan 38*, Naylor 1-12) beat Scotland Under-19s 75 (Uzzair 20, Wasim 5-12, Tahir 3-23, Afridi 2-32) by seven wickets
Scorecard

It was all rather one-sided in Potchefstroom as Pakistan steamrolled Scotland to get their Under-19 World Cup Group C campaign off to a rousing start.

Medium-pacers Tahir Hussain, Mohammad Wasim and Abbas Afridi first shared all ten wickets between them to bowl Scotland out for 75, and Irfan Khan then led the way in a straightforward chase, the target coming up in just 11.4 overs with seven wickets in hand.

Angus Guy, the Scotland captain, won the toss and opted to bat, but was bowled by Tahir off the second ball of the innings for a duck, his opening partner Ben Davidson suffering the same fate two balls later to leave the scoreboard reading 1 for 2 after four balls. Tomas Mackintosh got going, but became Tahir’s third victim when he was caught behind for an 18-ball 17.

Once Tahir was done, Wasim – who came into Pakistan’s squad as Naseem Shah’s replacement – and Afridi took over. Apart from Mackintosh, Uzzair Shah was the only other batsman to get to double-digits as Wasim returned 5 for 12 in 75 overs, to go with Tahir’s 3 for 23 and Afridi’s 2 for 32. The Scotland innings lasted just 23.5 overs.

The reply didn’t start well for the 2004 and 2006 champions, as openers Haider Ali and Muhammad Shehzad were dismissed with just four runs on the board. That was as good as it got for Scotland, though, as captain Rohail Nazir and Irfan scored quickly in a 47-run third-wicket stand and, after Rohail was sent back for a 23-ball 27, Irfan took Pakistan home in the company of Qasim Akram, finishing unbeaten on 38 off 37 balls.

Pakistan next play Zimbabwe on January 22, while Scotland take on Bangladesh a day before.



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